Bad mix sabotages Los Lobos concert
By RICK MITCHELL, Staff
The Houston International Festival dodged a bullet on Sunday. Despite suffocating humidity, dark skies and gusts of wind, the predicted storm blowing down from the north never arrived, and the show went on as planned.
Well, maybe not exactly as planned. Los Lobos ' 6 p.m. set on the Latin Stage - which drew the largest crowd of any music event on the festival's first weekend - was sabotaged by a horrendous sound mix.
The band members, who came all the way from Los Angeles for the performance, maintained their good humor about the situation and played a full 90-minute set that included everything from hard-rocking blues sung in English to acoustic Mexican folk songs sung in Spanish. Add assorted Cajun, country and Irish influences, and you have perhaps "the" most encompassing American rock band of the past decade.
But the sharp impact of Los Lobos ' best songs too often was blunted by a distorted mess of fuzzy guitars, inaudible sax, booming bass and piercing feedback in the vocal mikes. As a result, moments of musical inspiration that could have driven the crowd into a frenzy - David Hidalgo's smokin' guitar solo on "Jenny Take a Ride", for example - were reduced to almost unlistenable noise.
The sound seemed to improve farther from the stage - like a couple of blocks. Well-dressed patrons arriving for the Houston Symphony's evening performance at Jones Hall were treated to Los Lobos ' last song, "La Bamba". A few couldn't resist the temptation to bop along.